FB and Google Announcement

There have been two big pieces of Facebook/Google news recently. One of the most visible to our industry has been the new partnership between the two tech companies; Google DoubleClick advertisers can now purchase FBX inventory, an awesome development. The other news was a little more subtle, but a little more obvious at the same time; Google is rolling out advertisements featuring Google+ profiles and activity.

Let’s start by talking about the new FBX inventory.

FBX is Facebook’s display remarketing product. When visitors hit your site, FBX drops a cookie on their browsers. Later, when they visit Facebook (which accounts for 25% of all the web’s pageviews, according to Nielsen), they are retargeted with ads for the product or service they were looking at.

FBX has evolved to accommodate many different ad forms, including retargeted ads in the News Feed. Before the partnership with Google, FBX ads were only available through 3rd-party resellers, like AdRoll or Perfect Audience. Now, Google’s partnership means that a much larger variety of advertisers will have access to the inventory, within a familiar interface.

What does this mean? It’s pretty much a win-win-win: FBX gets more demand, which means either greater inventory or higher CPCs, and Google gets a more diverse product, meaning they can offer much more robust advertising solutions. Finally, advertisers get the ability to see how their campaigns interact and function from end to end, inside one interface, with Google’s support. Although we haven’t seen the results just yet, it seems like a very promising partnership.

New Google+ ads – what do they mean?

The second news item, and again, the more subtle/obvious one, is that Google is rolling out advertising units that take a head-on approach to competing with Facebook’s socially bolstered ads. This is subtle, in that they didn’t announce the product as a direct competitor, but obvious, in that nearly every user of a Google product saw a banner show up across the top of their screen in the past few weeks detailing the changes.

What does this change mean? For starters, Facebook is finally going to see some true competition for its Sponsored Stories ad unit, in the form of display ads featuring user +1s and profile pictures. This is steep competition, too; one of the biggest complaints about Facebook is that its advertisements lack intent – they’re essentially no better than your average display ad. Google will be able to plug its sponsored advertisements into extremely intent-laden searches, meaning there is serious incentive for companies to get out there and get users interacting with them on Google+.

The other, less obvious ramification is that although Google is offering a very easy opt-out process, you must have a Google+ profile in order to opt out fully. That means users who have utilized YouTube, Gmail, or any of Google’s other services, and avoided biting the Google+ bullet, will at least have to take one more step closer to embracing the social network in order to remove their name from ads. It’s a win-win for Google; even users who opt out are opting IN to Google+. Combined with other recent aggressive moves towards integrating Google+ into Google services, and updates to its Wildfire product, these changes point to Google making some serious plays at Facebook’s social ad inventory.

So what’s the takeaway? Now, more than ever, digital marketers need a diverse skill set. You can’t expect to sustainably specialize in Facebook or even social media advertisements without learning about Google’s AdWords product. As things move forward and analysis becomes easier, you’ll need to start learning how to manage web analytics platforms, too. And as collecting and managing that data becomes simpler, you’ll need to learn statistics and data analysis skills to really provide optimal value. Shameless plug: we can help with the AdWords/Analytics learning curve. As for the statistics part, well, I’m still a newbie and I’m just getting adjusted, but I plan on using tools like Coursera to help me jump the gap.

What do you think about Google’s recent changes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Dan Wilkerson is Marketing Manager at LunaMetrics, a Google Analytics certified partner that also specializes in social media, search engine optimization, and PPC. You can follow him @notdanwilkerson or @LunaMetrics.